Athletes don’t have to much time to think about defeat because there’s always
another challenge around the corner. There are lots of international
competitions in which Israeli athletes will vie in the months ahead, and for
many members of team Israel, one of the big challenges in just under a year from
now will be the 19th Maccabiah Games, which will be take place in Israel from
July 17-30, 2013, with the opening ceremony scheduled for July 18 in Jerusalem’s
Teddy Stadium and the closing event in Haifa’s new Ofer Stadium.
he couldn’t attend the Friday night opening of the Olympic Games in London
because there was no suitable hotel within walking distance, President Shimon
Peres is scheduled to attend the opening of the Maccabiah Games, which will not
conflict with Jewish tradition and will be easily accessible. Teddy Stadium is
less than a 15-minute ride from the President’s Residence. The opening will mark
the conclusion of the Maccabiah’s 80th anniversary year. Amir Peled, chairman of
the 19th Maccabiah committee, intends to make next year’s event the biggest and
the best yet and is introducing several sports competitions that have not
previously been included in the Maccabiah Games.
But even before the
games, let’s not forget that Israel always does extremely well in the
Paralympics, which begin on August 29 and end on September 9.
previous performance, it is unlikely that the Paralympic team will return from
London without a medal. Maybe this time it will also get the recognition that it
deserves on the home front.
■ TOMORROW, AUGUST 16, marks the 99th
anniversary of the birth of Israel’s sixth prime minister, Menachem Begin. This
past March, the nation marked the 20th anniversary of his passing.
most of his life in Israel – a period that spanned 50 years – he lived a very
simple lifestyle in a small, modest apartment in Tel Aviv. Although his oratory
was occasionally bombastic, the highly educated Begin remained forever the
gentleman and a man of the people.
Tonight at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque,
Begin’s birthday will be celebrated with the screening of Avi Amber’s film, I’m
just a simple Jew, which depicts the man behind the leader through the
perceptions of those who were closest to him.
Very often, the views of an
Opposition leader may change when an election allows him to move to the other
side of the table. In Begin’s case this did not happen. The values he held dear
as a young man remained with him throughout his life. The film is being screened
under the auspices of the Begin Heritage Center, whose director, Herzl Makov,
will give an introductory address prior to the screening.
screening, Amber will conduct a discussion with the audience.
GUESTS passing through the lobby of the Tel Aviv Hilton stopped and gawked at
the familiar face which they knew so well from their television screens, but had
not expected to see in Israel. Famed British actor Sir Patrick Stewart, best
known for his roles in Star Trek
arrived in Israel last Thursday to
join a star-studded Israeli cast who will be playing in Reshef Levy’s delightful
comedy, Hunting Elephants.
Stewart will be playing a somewhat
off-the-wall British gentleman who joins in a noble project to heist a
His partners in crime will be three senior citizens who have been
recruited by a young boy who is using their services to save his family home
from being repossessed by the bank.
Among the others in the cast are
Sasson Gabbay, Moni Moshonov, Moshe Ivgy, Tzvika Hadar and Yael
Reshef Levi, who scripted the film, is also its director. Ehud
Bleiberg, Moshe Edery and Leon Edery of United King are the co-producers in
addition to which the production receives the support of the Jerusalem Film and
Television Fund and the Rabinovich Foundation Cinema Project.
the film began in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv prior to Stewart’s arrival. This is not
the first time that Sir Patrick has been in Israel. He was previously in the
country for four days last year preparing for the role of Shylock in The
Merchamt of Venice. The role in Hunting Elephants was originally given to
British actor John Cleese, but he dropped out for health reasons.
will stay in Israel for approximately three weeks – and it won’t all be work.
Among other things, he wants to get a different perspective on Middle East
issues than what he gets from news outlets at home. He had enjoyed his previous
visit so much that he told friends that he was just waiting for an opportunity
to return.’ He told Ronnie Fortis, the director of Hiltons Israel, that he was
happy to be in the country not as a tourist but as part of an Israeli movie
production. Stewart is not known as a comedian, but he quite fancies the idea of
being remembered as someone who made people laugh.
■ FILM COMMITMENTS
notwithstanding, Sasson Gabbay also has commitments to the theater and will be
among the actors who will give readings at Tel Aviv’s Cameri Theater and at the
Dimona Theater at this year’s Literature on Stage Festival, featuring both
French and Israeli authors. The festival will run from September 10-13, with
most of the readings taking place at the Cameri Theater and one in the Dimona
Writers whose works have been selected include: Amira Casar,
Jean-Pierre Marielle, Agathe Natanson, Orly Castel-Bloom, Ronit Matalon, Moshe
Sakal, and Meïr Shalev . The readers will be Yael Abecassis, Ania Bukstein,
Evgenia Dodina, Sasson Gabbay, Zohar Goren, Dror Keren, Yiftah Klein, Noah
Raban-Knoller, Ofir Nahari, Menashe Noï, Amos Tamam and Yaacov Zaada
Simultaneous translations will be available.
THIS: two Jews, one opinion!” wrote Lori Lowenthal Marcus in The Jewish Press
last week. “And not only two Jews, but two Jewish organizations, one
representing Jewish Democrats and one representing Jewish Republicans, and there
is still only one opinion,” she continued. “Who accomplished this miracle? None
other than former US president Jimmy Carter.”
Lowenthal Marcus was
referring to a video-linked convention speech that Carter is scheduled to give
on Tuesday, September 4. The announcement last week by the Democratic National
Committee that Carter would appear by video link at the Democratic National
Convention in the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, elicited
objections from both Democrats and Republicans of the Mosaic
“In what may be a first, the Republican Jewish Coalition and
the National Jewish Democratic Council agree on something, and it is something
important,” wrote Lowenthal Marcus.
Carter gets a low grade from both
camps on his Israel-related track record. Even the most diehard Jewish Democrats
cannot justify some of the derogatory remarks that he has made about Israel.
Many right-wing American citizens living in Israel may be inclined to vote
Republican no matter how much it bothers them that presidential candidate Mitt
Romney is a Mormon who condoned the converting of Jews murdered in the
It’s possible that Romney’s Freudian slip in announcing his
running mate may prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Romney asked the crowd
to welcome the nominee for the next president – not vice president – of the
United States, Paul Ryan.
■ AMONG THE teachers returning to school next
month will be the eloquent and charismatic Miriam Peretz, who came to public
attention as the mother of two sons who fell in the line of duty while serving
in the Israel Defense Forces. Uriel Peretz died in 1998 while fighting in
Lebanon and his younger brother, Eliraz Peretz, an officer in the Golani unit
was killed in Gaza in 2010 while in pursuit of terrorist forces. According to a
Yediot Aharonot report, Miriam Peretz, a veteran teacher, school principal and
inspector was recently notified that the Petah Tikva Municipal Council had
decided to rename the Amit Yeshiva and to add to the title the name of her son,
Eliraz. The news was imparted to her by the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Shimon
Peretz’s reaction was to instantly offer to be a volunteer
teacher at the yeshiva with the aim of teaching the students about the values
that had guided her sons in life – love for the state, volunteerism, generosity
of spirit and recognition of the good in others.
■ APPROXIMATELY A year
ago, El Al launched a project to write a miniature Torah Scroll for Israel
Unity, with the aim of strengthening the connection between Israel, the Jewish
Diaspora and Israel’s national air carrier. Many public figures from Israel and
other parts of the Jewish world have written letters in the scroll, among them
President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, as well as members
of Israel’s Olympic delegation and heads of Jewish organizations from many parts
of the globe. The scroll, which is nearing completion, will be housed in the
synagogue on the EL AL campus and will be carried on flights of national and
Last week, in the course of a tour of Jerusalem by
El Al top brass led by CEO Eliezer Shkedi, letters were added to the scroll by
Bank Leumi chairman David Brodet, businessman and former basketball star Miki
Berkowitz and his wife Adi, chairman of the Jerusalem Development Authority
Moshe Leon, EL AL presenter Shlomo Baraba, singer Einat Sarouf, Western Wall
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovich, CEO of the Make- A-Wish Foundation Denise Bar- Aharon
and radio personality Didi Harari.
In addition to performing the holy
task with the assistance of a qualified scribe, the group toured Yad Vashem and
the Western Wall tunnels. At the conclusion of the tour, the El Al management
hosted the group at the capital’s Kedma restaurant, where Shkedi was pleasantly
surprised by his colleagues, who had remembered that this was a significant day
in his life – and duly celebrated his birthday.
■ SOMETIMES THERE can be
too much of a good thing. The plethora of Daf Yomi celebrations marking the end
of a seven-and-a-half year Talmud learning cycle amounted to overkill. There was
just so much that people could take. Thus despite the hard work, the dedication,
the abundance of publicity and the high caliber of speakers for the
International Young Israel Movement’s Siyum Hashas event that took place at
Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue last Thursday, there was an inescapable paucity of
It was announced that the doors would open at 6:45 p.m., an
hour before the program was due to begin. Anticipating that there would be a
huge rush for seats, there were early birds sitting in the plaza of the
synagogue even earlier.
The event was held in partnership with the
Yeshiva University Israel Alumni, the Jerusalem Great Synagogue, the World
Mizrahi Movement, Kollel Torah MiTzion, the Council of Young Israel Rabbis in
Israel and the Rabbinical Council of America, so it was small wonder that
organizers expected mammoth participation, especially as the Great Synagogue’s
Saturday night winter lectures attract as many as 1,500 people.
with featured speakers, greetings and presentations, there were no less than 14
speakers, most of whom came to Israel from the United States or Canada. Some of
the addresses were truly riveting, and it was a pity that such eloquent words of
wisdom were delivered to people already exhausted from participation in other
Daf Yomi celebrations. There was relief when the Great Synagogue’s chief cantor,
Chaim Adler, was called to the microphone, but he sang only one song and there
was great disappointment that it was not a rousing one.
Steinzaltz, who is famous for making the Talmud accessible, through translation
to vast numbers of people who might otherwise not study it, prided himself on
being the only Jerusalemite among the speakers and said he’d been born some 200
meters from the Great Synagogue.
He should have checked his facts – Rabbi
Yosef Carmel, the head of the Eretz Hemdah Rabbinical Court as well as the
rabbinical dean of the Eretz Hemdah Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies, was
also born in Jerusalem and served as a combat soldier in the Yom Kippur War and
the First Lebanon War.
■ AT VARIOUS China-Israel diplomatic events this
year, the 20th anniversary year of diplomatic ties between the two countries,
both Chinese and Israeli speakers have invariably referred to relations between
China and the Jews during the World War II. when many Jews found a refuge in
Now there is more than just a verbal reminder. Jerusalem’s
House of Quality will host an exhibition of photographs and personal items that
have been made available by the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum in the Hongkou
District of Shanghai.
The exhibition, which will be open to the public
from August 18, will have a special opening tomorrow, August 16, with the
participation of former refugees and their families as well as a delegation from
the Hongkou District and officials from the Chinese Embassy, the Jerusalem
Municipality and various Israeli public figures. Speakers will include vice
district Mayor of Hongkou Li Guohua, chairman of the board of the Jerusalem
House of Quality Rafael Aldor, Shanghai-born Miriam Hausman, director of the
North East Asia Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hagai Shagrir and
Nina Admoni (nee Wertan), a Warsaw-born former refugee whose family managed to
escape to Vilna, where they were among the fortunate people to receive a visa
from Japanese Consul Chiune Sugihara.
The visa, which would take them
through Japan, enabled them to receive an exit visa from Russian-occupied Vilna.
They then went to Moscow and boarded a trans-Siberian train to Vladivostock and
from there a ship to Japan. The journey took around two weeks. They spent six
months in Japan while Admoni’s parents tried unsuccessfully to obtain an entry
visa to the United States. They then joined other refugees in traveling to
Shanghai, which at the time was the only place open to them. Shanghai was
subsequently occupied by the Japanese and later bombed by the Americans, but
most of the Jewish refugees survived. In September 1945, the Americans began
entering Shanghai and the Jews began to leave after receiving letters from
relatives in other parts of the world. Some of these relatives had gone to other
countries before the war, while others had survived and were desperate to
reunify the remnants of their families. The Wertans were able to get visas to
the US and Ecuador and arrived in San Francisco in December 1947 under the
classification of displaced persons.
President Truman’s DP Act enabled
them to remain in America indefinitely. They moved to New York, where they had
After studying at the University of New York, the young
Nina Wertan applied to study at Berkeley in California. where she had two
Israeli roommates. One introduced her to an Israeli student, a Jerusalemite who
had been in the Hagana and had fought in the War of Independence.
name was Nahum Admoni. They fell in love, got married on August 3, 1952 at
Temple Beth El in Berkeley and settled in Jerusalem in 1954.
began working in the Prime Minister’s Office, then later was a diplomat
representing Israel abroad and from 1982 to 1989 was head of Mossad, and later
director general of Mekorot, the national water company.
■ ISRAELIS WHO
visit the synagogue in Rhodes are often surprised when they read the names on
the plaque commemorating Jewish citizens murdered by the Nazis. Nearly all the
surnames are familiar because those who were killed were distantly or sometimes
closely related to the best-known Greek families who settled in pre-state
Holocaust survivors from Rhodes and the nearby island of Kos
assembled with members of their families at Yad Vashem last week in an emotional
gettogether in which they reflected on what happened following the Nazi conquest
in September 1943 in the immediate aftermath of the Nazi invasion of Italy. Jews
in Rhodes died not only at the hands of the Nazis but also as a result of the
bombardment of Rhodes by the Allies. In July 1944, some 1,600 Jews who remained
on the island were ordered to assemble at various points from where they were
sent to Athens on barges. They traveled without food or water. The barges
initially made their way to Kos, where over 100 Jews were piled onto the barges
to be deported along with the Jews of Rhodes. The boats then stopped at the
island of Leros to deport the sole Jewish man who lived on the
After arriving in Athens, the Jews were detained at the infamous
Chaidari concentration camp and from there were deported to Auschwitz. Less than
Not all the survivors present at Yad Vashem last week had
given testimony, and Irena Steinfeldt, director of Yad Vashem’s Righteous Among
the Nations Department, urged them to fill out pages of testimony in memory of
the Rhodes and Kos Jews who were murdered and to thereby assist Yad Vashem in
creating a living memorial for these communities.
“To me, the story of
Rhodes and Kos symbolizes the whole story and uniqueness of the Holocaust.
Despite the fact that it was clear to all that the Germans were losing the war,
they still took all measures to murder the Jews – even one, on a distant Greek
island,” she said.
Former MK Colette Avital, who chairs the Center of
Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, spoke of the flourishing Jewish
community of pre-war Rhodes, a place of synagogues, a yeshiva, culture, and
She also recalled the heroic actions of Turkish Righteous Among
the Nations Selahattin Ulkumen, who rescued approximately 50 Jews in Rhodes.
Also among those present was Foundation for the Preservation of the Jewish
Heritage of Rhodes chairman Mario Suriano.
■ TEL AVIV Chief Rabbi Yisrael
Meir Lau, who is chairman of the Yad Vashem Council and one of the most famous
child Holocaust survivors, traveled to Russia this week to commemorate the 70th
anniversary of the murder of the Jews of Rostow. In August 1942, at least 27,000
people in Rostow were massacred by Nazi troops. More than half of the victims
The original memorial plaque had mentioned Jews, but at the
orders of Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov, all references to Jews
Following protests by the Russian Jewish Congress and the
Russian Federation Council, the wording on the plaque was amended in 2005 by the
Rostow Municipal Council, but in 2011, a higher authority, claiming that the
monument commemorating the Rostow massacre was in need of repairs, removed the
plaque and the one affixed in its stead again omitted all reference to
Lau had a very personal reason for going to Rostow, aside from his
position at Yad Vashem.
When he was a boy in Buchenwald, Feodor
Mikhailtschenko, a forced laborer who had been arrested by the Nazis in 1943 at
age 16, took care of him in Block 8, where child prisoners were kept.
Mikhailtschenko took pity on the little boy, who was known as Lolek, performed
some of his chores, managed to find earmuffs for him during the harsh winter and
often risked his life to save him. After the war, he wanted to take him to
Rostow and adopt him, but the boy’s older brother objected and said that they
were going to the homeland of the Jewish people.
Lolek, who survived the
war and became the chief rabbi of Israel, had searched for Feodor many times,
but did not know his last name and did not discover it until 2008, when Kenneth
Waltzer, an American researcher from Michigan State University solved the
mystery after the International Tracing Service at Bad Arolsen opened its files
to academics. In August 2008, Yad Vashem contacted Yulia Selutina, one of
Feodor’s daughters, who confirmed that her father, who had become an
internationally renowned geologist, had frequently talked about those days in
Buchenwald and about the little boy who had made such a deep impression on him.
He had tried to find Lolek, but when he failed he became convinced that Lolek
had been killed fighting in one of Israel’s wars. A year, later on August 4,
2009 Feodor Mikhailtschenko was honored at Yad Vashem as Righteous among the
Nations. The ceremony was attended by his two daughters Yulia Selutina and
Yelena Belayaeva, who said that their father had talked about Lolek until his
Lau was reunited with the two sisters during his visit to
Rostow this week and went with them to visit their father’s grave so that he
could say “thank you” to the man to whom he owes his life.
contingent of Jews participated in this year’s memorial service in Rostow and
wore black armbands highlighted by the word “Jude” in yellow. The demonstration
obviously made an impression on the Rostow authorities, who promised Lau that a
Jewish monument would be put up alongside the existing monument. Also this week
was the 60th anniversary on August 12 of the Night of the Murdered Poets, when
13 Jewish intellectuals were executed in the Lubyanka prison in Moscow as part
of Stalin’s purge policy against the Jews. The 13, who had all belonged to the
Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee established in 1942 with the aim of promoting
international Jewish support for the USSR’s battle against Nazi Germany, were
later convicted of espionage and treason. Among them was famed Yiddish poet,
novelist and playwright Peretz Markish, who was posthumously exonerated in
■ WHILE ON the subject of milestone anniversaries, 70 years and one
week ago, on August 8, 1942, Gerhart M. Riegner, who was the World Jewish
Congress representative in Geneva, sent a Western Union cablegram to British and
It read: “Received alarming report about plan being
discussed and considered in Führer headquarters to exterminate at one fell swoop
all Jews in German- controlled countries comprising three and a half to four
million after deportation and concentration in the east thus solving Jewish
question once and for all stop campaign planned for autumn methods being
discussed including hydrocyanic acid.”
A few days earlier, Riegner had
been told in a telephone call from a friend at the Federation of Jewish
Communities in Switzerland that he had learned from a German industrialist of
the Nazis’ plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe. The US vice consul in Geneva
forwarded a copy of the cable to president of the World Jewish Congress Stephen
Wise, who alerted the authorities in Washington. However, the US State
Department treated the contents as a wild rumor. The British Foreign Office
doubted the credibility of the information and said it would not do anything
until the allegations were properly investigated.
It took another three
months before the State Department, which had mounted its own investigation,
conceded the veracity of Riegner’s cable. But another month elapsed before
president Franklin Delano Roosevelt took any action to save the Jews, by which
time it was too late for too many. How different history could have
■ IT’S HARDLY a new trend, but the fact that it keeps repeating
itself is yet another proof that the more things change, the more they stay the
same. A survey by Avi Malcha, the CEO at Ml Fashion, indicates that what
influences the public to buy a particular brand or style is the celebrity who’s
modelling it. If the celebrity is popular, the garment will go like hot
Based on this, Ml signed up Miri Mesika and Amos Tamam for a
second season. A singer and actress, Mesika had never modelled before being
signed up as the presenter for Ml’s spring/summer collection for 2012. She
proved to be such a hit with the public, as did Tamam, that Ml promptly signed
them up for fall/winter.
Each will receive NIS 350,000.
if you can get it.
■ ALTHOUGH HER birthday was not until this week,
broadcaster and print media journalist Judy Shalom Nir Mozes, who is married to
Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee Silvan Shalom,
celebrated on air last Friday when colleagues and social welfare activist
Menashe Cohen, with whom she works in distributing food and clothing to needy
youngsters, brought a cake and played “Happy Birthday” while she was in
Shalom Nir Mozes, whose late mother, Paula, was involved
with numerous charitable enterprises, and who used to engage the local garbage
collectors in serious conversation, inherited her mother’s spontaneous habit of
helping others but said that she never got as deeply involved as in Cohen’s
not-for-profit Hom (Warmth) Foundation, nor had she ever reaped as much
Another well-known broadcaster who was roped in by Cohen is
Nissim Mishal. Earlier in the month, Shalom Nir Mozes celebrated her husband’s
54th birhday. Silvan Shalom was born in Tunisia on August 4,